Friday, March 12, 2010

Public Speaking: Speaking to Continuing Education Audiences

Public Speaking: Speaking to Continuing Education Audiences

What does a public speaker need to know about speaking to an audience of licensed professionals who are required to take continuing education units (CEUs) to fulfill their licensing renewal requirements? First, many of them do not want to be in the room listening to a public speaker. In fact, those who are very experienced in their field may feel as they are the experts and actually resent the mandatory training. How can you keep them interested?

Respect their knowledge.
I once saw a very polished president of a company walk out onto a shop floor and take a stance similar to the shop workers, thinking he was appearing to be one of them. As soon as he returned to his plush office, one of the workers expressed contempt for the president. Rather than perceiving him to be one of them, the worker thought he was talking down to them so his message was scorned. This can be an important lesson for those who take on the job of CEU training. You must respect the knowledge the course participants have acquired over time, as well as their professional experience. They must sense that you are honestly at their level and are there to help them, not look down on them.

Don’t ever tell a joke.
In typical public speaking events, humor is an important part of the presentation. Not with this special audience. They want the training to be over quickly and will not want you to waste their time telling jokes. Self-effacing humor is good, however, if you relate it to the course content.

Use a variety of media.
Show short videos, play audios and display web pages from the Internet with projector and screen. Intersperse these with your talks.

Energize them.
Move around the room with high energy. Participants may have been driving all day, working outside in bad weather, pounding a computer, standing behind a hairdresser’s chair — any number of tiring activities. In addition, they may have had to go to class without having dinner. Your movements can help hold their interests and keep them awake. Try to make the time go quickly for them.

Stay in control of the class.
When you tell stories related to the content, be careful that class members don’t chime in with unrelated anecdotes. Don’t ever let your class turn into “Here’s what happened to me,” or the other students will lose interest.

Remember, the objective is to help people qualify to renew their license and certification. Be sure you relate the content and your handout materials to the type of work the participants do.

Speakers: Learn to make $5500 or more everytime you speak!

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